The EU and Turkey have agreed that all migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey will be returned to Turkey. For each Syrian sent back to Turkey from Greece, a Syrian already in Turkey will be resettled in the EU.
The “one in, one out” plan was discussed in Brussels, and has been described as a “breakthrough” by the European Council President Donald Tusk.
There are around 2.7m Syrian refugees in Turkey, on top of the 1m people who entered the EU by boat last year, mainly on the route from Turkey to Greece.
Talks are ongoing, but Tusk has already concluded that the principles of the deal so far send “a very clear message that the days of irregular migration to Europe are over”. The Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu added that Turkey has taken a “game-changing” decision “to help people who want to come to Europe through encouraging legal migration”.
Yet the German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the deal could only be seen as a breakthrough “if it becomes reality”.
The EU will cover the costs of sending migrants back to Turkey. The £2.2bn payment it promised to Turkey last year will be speeded up, and there will also be extra funding to help Turkey deal with the crisis. Turkish citizens will also be given easier access to the EU (visa-free travel is on the cards), as part of the deal.